May 16th

You never think it can happen to you. It always happens to other people.

It’s other people who wake up in the morning, go to their jobs and never come home because someone flew a plane into the floor of the skyscraper they worked on. It’s someone else who goes to their first college class of the day and never leaves because a classmate shot them. We see it on the news. We feel sorrow for the victims. But in the back of our minds there is always the thought that it’s not us.

There were two other shootings in May of 2006 in West Virginia. A disgruntled substitute teacher shot his neighbors. Another shooter took a family out into the woods and shot them execution style. It made the news. I remember thinking people are crazy. What would possess someone to do that?

May 16th started like any other day. I woke up early to go to the gym. My parents and I had a ritual. At the time we only had one working shower in the house and that was in the master bathroom. So I would walk through their room to wash up. My dad would grumble and then say, “Why don’t you use your bathroom?” I would tell him I can’t because it’s not finished. The he would say, “Well why don’t you finish it?” I would chuckle and go into the bathroom. I’m pretty sure my dad was being serious though.

I washed up and left for the gym. I did my work out and got a run in. When I was done I swung by Pastor Seth’s office. I had to talk to him about a multimedia project for church services Sunday. The movie adaptation of Dan Brown’s book The Davinci Code was coming out Friday the 19th. The movie caused a lot of controversy because of Dan Brown’s artistic license with the plot. Which was Jesus married Mary Magdelene, faked is death and moved to Spain to raise a family. There was one side of the church that was going to protest the movie. On the other side we felt it was a great outreach opportunity. Sunday’s lesson was going to be a rebuttal to Brown’s depiction of history and anyone with questions was invited that Sunday. I was going to create a video intro to the lesson. We discussed what was going to happen Sunday and then I left to head home to the farm.

I drove home and went up the driveway through Eagle’s property. Once I got onto our property I had to pull to the side because a gas company truck was leaving while I was entering. I let them pass and then pulled up to the house. My parents were in good spirits. They got good news from the gas company. Earlier in the year we had a gas well vandalized and the result was a $2,000 gas bill. We were able to prove it had been tampered with and the gas company was kind enough to let us off the hook for the amount owed.

I told my parents about my morning and my meeting with Pastor Seth. They were excited for Sunday. My dad and I made plans to see the movie that Friday. It would just be us that weekend because my mom was going to drive to Virginia to meet my Aunt and pick up my grandfather. My grandfather was in poor health. Taking care of him was difficult, so to give my grandmother and my aunt a rest we said we would take care of him for a few weeks. My grandparents lived in South Carolina but the halfway point was Wytheville, Virginia. It was our gas up and food spot.

I was preparing for a road trip myself. I had a friend from college that was about to enter the Army and we were going to go on a road trip before he went to basic training. I would leave later that afternoon and we would be back Thursday. I’m so glad my friend wasn’t on the farm that day.

My parents had errands to run so they got ready to leave. They had to drop off some alpaca paperwork over at a friend’s farm and then go grocery shopping for dinner. We were going to have chicken and rice. This was a frequent meal in the Slatt house. My mom didn’t want to take Charley (her cocker spaniel) so she asked if I would take care of him while she was gone. I said sure. Before they went out the door we gave each other a kiss and a hug, said I love you and goodbye. Before my mom got in their vehicle she said they would be back in a few hours. My dad started the Explorer and they drove off. I went into the house, up to my bedroom and began working on the project for Sunday.

It was a normal day. We had plans.

Then life changed. In a matter of minutes my parents were gone and I was laying on the floor bleeding in the master bedroom.

You never think it can happen to you. It always happens to other people.